Monday, September 20, 2010

My Last Freedom

by Troy Chapman

Well, as Maryann has already posted, our bid for commutation has been denied by both the Michigan Parole Board and the governor. As I’ve spent the past few days pondering this decision I keep coming back to a few things.

We don’t know why this decision was made instead of a more positive one. Perhaps we’ll find that out eventually. Whatever we may find out I’m fairly certain that I’ve done all that I can in the matter. There’s some comfort in this because I know I have done my part. On the other hand, there’s some frustration in it as well because I’m not sure what’s required of me at this point. Needless to say, it’s a sad time.

I have, throughout the process, been thinking about Scott Chandler and his family. Whatever the past 26 years have been for me, he hasn’t had them at all, nor has his family had them with him due to my actions. I think also about my own family, who were hurt as well by my actions.

Last night in the ethics group, we talked about the central premise of the group: that we should at all times do only what increases wholeness in ourselves and in the world. We talked about what that means and I spoke of how my crime tore up the wholeness of so many people. During this conversation, another of the central ideas of my life came up — that is what Viktor Frankl, Nazi death camp survivor, called “man’s last freedom.” He said we can’t always determine what happens to us in life or what our circumstances are but we can always choose how we will respond to those circumstances.

This outcome of continued incarceration is certainly not what I would have chosen if I had a choice. But I didn’t. What I do have a choice in is how I respond to it now. And so my question is, with all things being as they are, what response will increase wholeness in myself and in the world?

I don’t know the answer yet, but I think part of it is simply asking the question. If I can do nothing else or know nothing else, I know this: Turning my mind and spirit to this question rather than to the million other places it wants to run like water right now is in itself a wholistic act.

So I have my question. I think it’s not just the question for this situation but the question for all of life: What response will increase wholeness? I will continue asking it as I process and adjust to this.

I’ve said before but not for awhile how much all of you who call yourselves my friends mean to both Maryann and me. Your support and encouragement mean more than we can tell you.


Kitty Riley Kono said...

Dear Troy,

You are so good and so wise and so strong. Thank you for this. You are an inspiration to all around you.


Mariann said...

Dear Troy!

I am sad to hear that the case turned out the way it did.

As you so beautiful put it, you still have - and use - your last freedom. The freedom that can never be taken away from you, and at the end, matter more than anything else in life.

So, even if I am sad, I am happy to know that you have the wisdom, love and strength to choose Rumi's field, beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, and there, finding the answer to your question.

Love and compassion to you,
beautiful being and friend!


NPB said...

Hi Troy
I am reading your blog in New Zealand. I am a chaplain to a prison here. I understand what a disappointment that decision is for you. I pray for your perseverance and patience living out your sentence. St Paul defines love as "patience and kindness". In your present circumstances you will need to be patient with God who is eternally patient and kind to you. That is part of what loving God is about. I see your blog as a wonderful means of being a support to many on both sides of the wire. God bless you. Deacon Nick